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Eastern Michigan U Mashup Maps Campus Crime

Eastern Michigan University and the City of Ypsilanti in Michigan are partnering to create a mapping and tracking system for area crime. The team, which consists of EMU's Institute for Geospatial Research, EMU's Department of Public Safety, and the Ypsilanti Police Department, have developed a Google mashup to provide users with a visual representation of where crime is occurring by adding markers to a map of the campus and the city.

The application uses the Google mapping Web interface to plot the points where crimes occur. The map locates the crime within the correct block but doesn't pinpoint the exact address to maintain the victim's privacy.

The application took several months to create and cost about $15,000.

"We saw an opportunity to use EMU resources to help the campus and the community by providing timely, accurate information that enhances the safety of our campus," said Sue Martin, president of the university.

"This is part of our commitment to having a transparent police agency," said Greg O'Dell, executive director of public safety at EMU. "With this addition to our Web site, people have total access to a lot of information."

"We want to increase the awareness of what's going on out there. If we increase awareness, people will have a better understanding of what is going on and take appropriate action," said O'Dell.

The Department of Public Safety posts the data daily to its Web site, and the application looks at that data and maps it, said Mike Dueweke, manager of EMU's Institute for Geospatial Research.

Users of the Web site can see crimes that have occurred in the last 60 days. Crimes tracked encompass arson, aggravated assault, burglary, criminal sexual conduct, motor vehicle theft, murder, robbery, and larceny from a vehicle.

Dueweke said that while EMU's crimes will appear almost immediately, Ypsilanti's reporting process will take longer to log crimes in the system. However, having the City of Ypsilanti participate in the project was very important, O'Dell explained. "Our students are part of the larger community of Ypsilanti, so it is very important that they can get the entire picture of what is happening on campus and in the community."

O'Dell cautioned that, while having more information is better, the data must be compared to other campuses to get the clearest assessment of what is happening and how EMU compares to other universities.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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